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Photos, Phones and Probably a Sketch – 12 October 2017

Today I intended to get the bus in to Glasgow just to have a wander, probably gather some photos and maybe get a sketch completed. That was the ‘fun’ stuff, I also wanted to get a baseline price for a new phone contract. That wouldn’t be fun.

As it turned out, Scamp offered me a lift to the station, so I got the train in instead. When I got to the station there was a fair commotion with four police cars and two ambulances sitting outside. The reason for the stramash was lying on the floor in the corridor that takes you down to the low level station. One of the ceiling panels had fallen. Usually these panels are fibreboard or plasterboard, but this part of the station dates to the 1960s and this panel was concrete! Cordons had been set up, police were taking statements from witnesses and at least one wee Glesga wummin who wanted to be seen to be ‘assisting police with their enquiries’. There were also a few ambulance personnel looking for someone to assist. Thankfully only one person was injured, but looking at the size of the concrete lumps, this could have had a totally different outcome.

I walked up Sausage Roll Street and found a sketch for the day. It wasn’t a cold day, but the wind blowing over Garnethill was cutting. I took about 15 minutes to get the bones of the sketch of St Aloysius Church. Even at the second attempt I managed to truncate it and removed the dome at the top of the tower. However, I think I got the gist of the building. Went in to Mandors and got some fabric to make a bow tie for myself. It’s printed with cameras. Quite apt I thought.

From there I walked down to Argyle Street via a couple of art galleries, looking for inspiration. Into Cass Art to browse. Just window shopping. They too had a gallery where a group of 25 artists were selling their work, so I wandered round looking for inspiration. Inspiration is a fickle thing. I found it in the first galleries, but in the Cass Art gallery I realised that my own work was actually not bad. After all this fun stuff, it was time to face Vodafone.

As predicted, all they offered was the blanket price from the website. I could have sat on my backside in front of my shiny new iMac and got that same price. In fact I had. I was told that if I was in the police, army NHS or any of 5,000 other occupations or companies, I was eligible for a discount (allegedly!), but upgrading was not due a discount. Staying with a company was not due a discount. That said, the salesperson had originally told me that I was not eligible for an upgrade because I was outwith the 70 days until the end of my contract. Also, apparently I’d phoned the shop at some point in the last week. Believe me, I wouldn’t waste any of my unlimited minutes phoning them. I just wanted a baseline price and I got their laughable offer, then left.

Scamp had offered to pick me up from the station, so I just got the train back after checking that it was still ok with her. Had a quick roll ‘n’ cooked ham as a late lunch and then grabbed the Nikon and went for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s where I got PoD which was the spider. I was tempted by the pic of the bloke playing slide guitar on Bucky Street. It was when I got the photo home I realised that only his right hand had false nails. Presumably to help with picking the strings. I’d love to have been in the nail bar when he walked in!

Phoned Vodafone customer service later and spoke to someone sensible who sold me the same deal as the salesman in Glasgow, but with a 20% discount. I know I could have pressed for 25% or maybe eve 30%, but he had beaten the Tesco price and it meant I was getting a new phone with more storage space for less than I paid two years ago. Result!

All of that and Seabass for dinner. A good day!

Looks like overnight rain and a wet morning commute, except we don’t commute any more. We just wait for the sun to shine, which may happen around midday with a bit of luck. No plans for tomorrow. May do the first backup of the iMac. Need to think up a name for the new phone. The last one was ‘Mambo No 5’. I’m thinking this one might be ‘Isa.’

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Out to lunch – 26 September 2017

First job today was to clean out the car. Yesterday, the outside. Today the inside.

I used three poly bags and the KFC method again:

  • K = Keep – goes out and comes back in
  • F = File – goes somewhere else
  • C = Chuck – it goes in the bin

Most stuff went into the K or C bags with a few things finding their way back into the house again to be checked over before going through the KFC cycle again sometime later. It didn’t take as long as I anticipated and then it was time for lunch.

Scamp suggested going to the gallery at Clachan of Campsie. I wasn’t so sure, because the last time we went there the place was ruled by a rather superior lady who was definitely doing us a favour by allowing us into her cafe and also allowing us to pay for our meal. I needn’t have worried. The place was under new management and my soup and a sandwich were very, very good. The chicken soup was quite thick, warming and although a bit tasteless to start with, benefitted greatly from a pinch of salt. The sandwich. Hmm. Who in their right mind would combine chunks of Brie with thin slices of apple and a drizzle of honey, yes honey then wrap them in slices of unbuttered brown bread? Absolute genius. In my mind it ranks with Beetroot and Cheese toasties and Cheese and Marmalade pieces (sandwiches to you if you’re english). Such a brilliant flavour combination. I’m going to make it for my lunch some time this week. Scamp doesn’t like honey and as it’s the hook the whole thing hangs on, she doesn’t get any. Scamp had lentil soup, poor soul. She missed the flavour bomb!
The down side of the Gallery was the gallery itself. The paintings were awful. Twee wee landscapes that I’ve grown out of and uninspired, dull landscapes in big frames. That’s not photography, that’s taking bad foties. However, the food was good and the service was with a smile. Oh yes, and we had a cake between us. A Vienna Sponge that tasted great. We will be back DV. Oh, by the way JIC, Wheelcraft is still there and still doing a roaring trade.

Drove up the Crow Road to the big carpark with the panoramic views around East Dunbartonshire. (There is that anomaly again. Dumbarton is the county town of Dunbartonshire. Why is it spelled differently then?) That’s where the landscape shot came from. Ok that’s where the landscape shot originated from before I painted in some sunny patches and darkened the sky , oh and … You get the idea, don’t you. It may be fake, but it’s better in my opinion than the insipid offerings in the Gallery.

Came home and Scamp wanted to make the most of the watery sunshine and almost two dry days, so she went to cut the grass. I took my camera down the Luggie with me to try to get a better shot a scene I’d seen yesterday. The light wasn’t as good as yesterday, but I was better prepared and at least one of the shots turned out like I wanted. The the beer can ‘installation’ is PoD, in case you hadn’t guessed.

Watched part of the Invictus Games tonight and Scott Meenagh was being interviewed after coming second in a race.  He used to go the Cumby High.  He was a bit of a pain until he discovered drama.  When he left school he joined the army and lost both legs when his Landrover hit an IED.   He became quite a celebrity at school and rightly so.  Someone for all the kids to look up to, but a warning to them at the same time.  It was good to see him making a name for himself, and a new life for himself too.

Don’t have any plans yet for tomorrow. It might involve swimming or the gym to keep my excitement in check and Salsa at night.

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A rather full day – 17 September 2017

When we woke this morning, someone was shouting at us from a loud hailer from the general direction of the football stadium. It appeared that the Cumbernauld 10K had started. We really should go and watch.

We walked down through the new housing estate and found that the all the races had started. The 1K were already home, the 3K were due at any minute and the 10K were halfway round the pond. All this had happened while we were having our breakfast and reading in bed. We watched the 3K folk finishing and by the time their stragglers were coming to the stadium, the first of the 10K were in sight. We watched a few of them enter the stadium, then walked back along the road clapping to encourage the runners as we went. I find now if I stand in one place for too long, I get a back pain. Gentle moving eases it. Running 10K wouldn’t help though!

We did see one accident while we were watching. One man, not a competitor took a tumble on the grass beside the footpath and fell heavily on his shoulder. He started screaming in pain and holding his shoulder. The First-Aider got him to cross his arms in front of his chest and hold opposite shoulders. Classic textbook broken collar bone injury. He was eventually carted off in a wheelchair into the VIP area. Possibly that’s where he wanted to go in the first place, but a rather extreme way of getting entrance.

We walked back home and were just making lunch when JIC and Sim arrived back with Chris and Yvonne. After catching up with C & Y they left to go home and we booked an early dinner at Milano’s, then headed off to Chatelherault near Hamilton to go for a walk through the trees. We walked over the Duke’s Bridge, but when we got there and found that almost all the trees had been felled leaving the valley down to the Avon Water looking very different from the last time Scamp and I had been there. More of the Hunting Lodge was open than last time so we wandered round some of the rooms and I got some photos before we headed home.

Dinner in Milano’s was good, but the pizzas were not as brilliant as they used to be. New chef, or maybe just a weekend stand in? Only time will tell. Halfway through the meal Sim discovered that their flight had been put back 2 hours! So, would we go back home or did they just want to go to the airport? They chose to go in the hope that the flight would get away quicker.

We drove home from the airport and watched an interesting and, for once, exciting F1 GP from Singapore. I won’t say who won in case you haven’t seen it yet.

A rather full day, but an enjoyable one.

I’ve been meaning to post a weekly note on my blog to try to track down the week the swallows arrive and leave. This week I saw some swallows and this is week 38.

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A more down to earth day – 6 September 2017

It seems like the last few days, in fact the last week have been a whirl of buying. Holidays, oops, forgot to mention that we are going on holiday! So apart from holidays, there were suites, hoovers dash cams and cars to look at, admire, assess investigate and purchase. Anyone would think we’d won the lottery. Now that would be unlikely because you have to buy a ticket before you can win and there is the downfall!

Today was more down to earth. A day to pick a drawer in a chest of drawers and clear it out into one of three piles using the KFC method:

  • Keep – It goes back in the drawer
  • File  – Find somewhere else to put it (where you can find it again)
  • Crap –  It goes into the bin. The more you can fit into this pile the better.

As usual, it’s really amazing the things you find in the back of a drawer. Things you’d forgotten about, things you knew you had but couldn’t find (previously filed!) and the things you find and haven’t a clue what they are, or why you were keeping them. After an hour of this I’d halved the contents of the drawer, filled two bags of rubbish and filed away numerous things, never to be found again. I just know that next week I’ll suddenly remember why I was keeping a 20mm long piece of dried clay in a zip top poly bag.

After lunch I started another painting. This one was of a real place it’s based loosely on a photograph of the Forth estuary at Torryburn in Fife. I’m quite happy with it at present, but I’ve a few bits and pieces to add and maybe, just maybe I’ll post it tomorrow, all being well.

I went for a walk along the canal in the late afternoon, just to get some fresh air in between the rain showers. It was too windy for any decent insect photos and the spider was the best I got. It was only when I was post-processing it I realised it was in the act of spinning its web. That’s my PoD.

Drove into salsa tonight and used the dashcam again. The video quality is really amazing. It even made a couple of ’emergency’ photos which it stores in a special ‘private’ folder. Impressed as I wasn’t actually braking hard, honest officer. Went to pay for parking at STUC and a prick was trying to talk to someone important on the phone that he had pressed between his shoulder and his skull whilst trying to feed about fifty 20p coins into the machine from a poly bag he was holding. It kept rejecting them then telling him to take his money, he kept on doing exactly the same thing again. After two iterations, I said to him that there’s a limit to the number of coins you can use in these machines. He looked at me as if to say go away old man. So I just said “Just trying to help and that’s what you get. WANKER.” I’m sure the person on the other end of the phone already knew he was a wanker, but I was said it loud enough to let them know that I knew too. I went across the road put in my £2.50 (no 20p coins were used) in another machine and came back as he was retrieving his ticket. It’s simple really. People who’s brain chip is an Intel Celeron single core shouldn’t try to do difficult things like parallel process. That’s only going end up in tears. Also, that’s what he gets for raiding one of his kid’s piggy banks to get his parking money. Just to annoy him more, I waited until he was back in his car and crossed the street again and photographed him. He’s sitting somewhere just now thinking “What’s he going to do with that photo?” No, probably he’s forgotten. Like my new dashcam, his brain chip will delete old data to make way for new stuff. You have to do that when you’ve only got 128k of RAM.

That last thought came from the tidy up today. I found a 128k memory module for a Sinclair QL (c1984). 128k what could you store on that now? A really small photo? About 8 seconds of music? Just shows how time and technology has moved on.

Salsa was great fun with the beginners starting to get adventurous with Exhibela and Exhibela Ronde. We even taught Jamie G a move we called Setenta Abaho. We’ll be teaching our own class soon!

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And the winner is the Juke – 5 September 2017

I made up my mind. The new car will be a Juke. A Flame Red one. That was Scamp’s part of the decision and I quite like red cars too.

Drove in to Stirling today to seal the deal and sign away all my indecision. Then Scamp suggested that since it was such a beautiful day, we should go to Perth to get tea and coffee and maybe a wee bit of lunch. Seemed like a plan, so that is what we did, with a bottle of prosecco in the boot courtesy of the dealership – you don’t get that with Arnold Clark!

Perth was almost empty today. If it wasn’t for some German tourists and a wedding party, it would have been completely deserted. You could tell they were tourists because they were all wearing tartan and rotating their street map to try to find where they were. Exactly the same as we do when we’re abroad. You could tell it was a wedding party because there was a lady with a white dress carrying a bouquet of flowers. Another clue was the group of ladies with what looked like giant black spiders on their heads. Bringing up the rear were the uncomfortable looking young men in kilts, fiddling with the tight collars of their starched white shirts. Oh what fun they were all having while the photog snapped photos for the overpriced wedding album. Cynic, that’s me.

Got my tea and coffee. Lunch was in the Breizh French restaurant. Food was interesting, but nothing great. A bit expensive. After reading a few reviews when we came home, it appears that it recently suffered from a change of ownership. That rarely means an improvement and that is what has happened here I think. May go back, but won’t rush.

Drove home and enjoyed an almost traffic free journey. I think we were just late enough to avoid the rush hour at the merging of the M80 and the M876. It’s usually a nightmare around 4pm and we were reaching it around 5pm.

Tried out the dash cam. Wasn’t too impressed with the quality of the recording until I tried it on my PC laptop with an i5 processor and everything improved greatly. It appears the Intel Core 2 Duo in the Mac just isn’t up to the job. Having said that, it will have to do the job generally for a year or so yet after today’s Flame Red investment!

Today’s PoD is of three folk attempting to emulate the statues in Perth High Street. Life Imitates Art.

Don’t have any plans for tomorrow. Just counting down the days to J-Day!

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Unexpected – 26 August 2017

Today we were on a tight schedule. I wanted to get a pair of jeans in Glasgow and we both wanted to go to a flower show on the way back. Also, if we could find time in the middle to have lunch that would be a bonus!

Drove to Glasgow. When we emerged from the car park everyone was huddled round the door, because it was raining – such an unusual event in Scotland. However, after we walked down Buchanan Street in the gradually increasing deluge, we too took shelter in a shop doorway and I got the photo of the three ladies who chose an arboreal shelter instead.

Went in to St Enoch’s Centre to get out of the rain and use it as a short cut to Debenhams, and it was there I came upon The Unexpected Artist gallery. There were two artists on site. One wee bauchle singing away to himself while he painted in the corner and a tall thin woman with tattoos all down her neck, painting a portrait. Some of the work on show was very good, some was not all that great. Certainly worth another look though. Got the jeans and almost dodged the rain going for lunch in Charcoals. The food was great, but it was a bit spicy. I didn’t mind, but Scamp was sure there was steam coming out of her ears. A slight exaggeration, but there was a fair bit of heat in the Chicken Rogan Josh. No opportunity of a beer on the way home as I was driving, but at least the rain was easing off by then.

Got to Muirhead for the garden show and met the other Mr Campbell (no relation) and discussed retirement then exchanged news. Bemoaned the poor weather this year and discussed holidays past and still to come. Took our leave and left before the prize giving. Such a dull affair with too many in jokes.

Sort of intended going out to get some photos, but finally decided that I had enough. I’d taken the shots of the drips on the poppy stems this morning and grabbed one or two of the rowan berry on the allium, but it was the ladies in the rain that was my PoD.  What I did do was an attempted copy of Fred’s painting.  His looks better, the colour in mine is too muddy.  I’ll attempt version 2 tomorrow.

Hoping for the dry weather that appeared tonight to stay tomorrow, because Monday looks like more rain.  Not unexpected at all.

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The Lost Scotsman and the Lost Americans – 24 August 2017

Most railway stations have a newsagent or a coffee takeaway nearby. Not Lenzie. Lenzie has a psychologists office. I think that says a lot about the town. On the other hand, maybe it says more about me, because I noticed! Anyway, just an observation. Take of it what you will.

As you will have gathered, I took the train in to Glasgow. I managed to get the only, yes, the ONLY parking space in the enormous Croy Station carpark. Granted it was about a half mile walk to the station, but I was parked, and in a space. Not on a flower garden, not up on the kerb or in a turning circle, but in a space. On a Thursday, that is no mean feat. Had a wander around Glasgow. I had thought about having my hair cut, but rejected that until the autumn sets in, in September. What I was looking for was a cheap box of water soluble oil paints. I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, but they do exist and are very good. They have the feel of oil paints without the need for solvents. The smell of the linseed oil or the turps doesn’t bother me, but it does leave a lingering smell in the room that permeates to the whole house. I was also looking for a small watercolour block that I got in Tiger at the weekend and swapped for a roll of canvas when I met Fred yesterday. Like I wrote earlier, it wasn’t the best watercolour paper, but it was cheap and a neat size. Unfortunately the first shop I went to had none and the second only had the larger size which would have cockled (buckled) more when I put a wet wash on. On the way back I bumped into a group of young American guys (note the capital letter – If you don’t know what I mean, click here). They were lost and looking for Gordon Street. I couldn’t for the life of me remember where it was. I said sorry and walked on, then I realised that Gordon Street was the next street down. Walked back and told them. I also asked if they were going to the station. They said no, they were looking for a sports shop called Reeves. Reeves is a paint manufacturer, I was on my way to get some paint, so I just shrugged and said good luck. I was going the same direction as they were, so not wishing to crowd them, I slowed down. Almost at Gordon Street and the database in my head filtered out the answer to their problem. The sports shop was Greaves. One of the oldest sports shops in the UK if not the world. Tapped the leader on the shoulder and pointed at the illuminated sign behind him. His smile told me that’s where they were going. Isn’t it nice to do someone a good turn? The answer, which can be on a postcard if you wish, is YES!

Found the paints for a bargain price in Cass Art and got a canvas the exact size and proportions I wanted in Millers. Pity about the Tiger watercolour block, but I’ll keep looking for it. Headed home to find that they have eventually started the rebuild of Queen Street Station with hoardings all round the block and only a small entrance / exit to Dundas Street. Of course, because it was such a small entrance, some idiot english (same rules apply) family of about ten folk were blocking it. You don’t do that in Glasgow. People will just barge past, through and over you whichever takes their fancy. I did the ‘past’ option. Others took the ’through’. I didn’t see any ‘over’ supporters, but then it was Thursday. Now if it had been a Saturday just after full-time and Rangers had been robbed by a blind referee, there would have been carnage.

Today’s PoD was taken on Argyle Street and is entitled Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear.

Only had to wait about ten minutes for a train and that brings us neatly back to the start!

Met Duncan for a ‘wee chat’ and to hand over some books tonight. It was really good to hear his version of what day to day life is like in the school three years down the line. I really enjoyed the catch up and will probably take up his offer of a visit to see how the department works now. However, I have no intention of taking up his other offer of me doing ‘supply’. Oh no, I have a different life now and nothing will make me give it up.

Tomorrow June and Ian are coming for lunch.  Pannacotta is already made, cooling and hopefully setting.

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Gay for a Day – 19 August 2017

The sun enticed us out of bed and stayed with us until we left the house. After that it rained a bit, but it didn’t dampen our intent to go in to Glasgow on the bus. We were going to see the ‘maddies’ at Gay Pride.

We’d been to see the gay pride march last year, hoping to see one of Scamp’s old friends from work with her wife. Sorry, but I still find that a hard thing to say. Anyway, we didn’t see either of them and today was much the same. We started out with a coffee in Nero and then walked up Sauchiehall Street to Waterstones. On the way I went in to Tiger to get a pair of readers, because I had forgotten mine. In there, I picked up a watercolour block for the princely sum of £3! That’s about a quarter the price of the same sized article in Cass Art and they are the cheapest art shop in town. I’m not expecting much. It’s not going to be hand-made 100% rag paper, but for £3 you can’t expect miracles. Some people would say I always expect miracles! I was just going in to Waterstones when this bloke asked me how I was doing and if I was enjoying my retirement. I could almost see the Identikit pictures fluttering across my internal scanner as I tried to place him. Salsa? No, not salsa. High School? No, not high school, but there was a hook there. Teacher then? Yes. PT Tech from somewhere near. Kilsyth? Yes, that’s it. Isn’t the human brain wonderful. It’s been over three years since I’d last met Andy and I’ve had almost no connection to teaching since then, but the filters and sorts on my organic database worked their magic again. We talked for a while about people we knew and the state of Scottish education. I knew it was going downhill, you only have to watch the Scottish news to see that, but it’s much more pointed when you are getting the full story from someone at the chalkface. It was good speaking to him. I always got on well with him at PTs meetings. He was one of the quieter ones who had no need for arse licking. One of the few. We said our goodbyes and I wandered the bookshop trying to make sense of some of the things he had told me. For once I didn’t even add a book to my book list.

Met Scamp who had been raking through the bargain at M&S, then we walked down Buchanan Street to watch the march. We missed the start of it, but caught the most of the celebration. It never ceases to surprise me just how good natured this march is. Yes, it’s noisy and yes there are a lot of politicos there, but there is no bad feeling or even a harsh word. Everyone is just there to have a good time.  Even the rain showers didn’t dampen their enthusiasm. I got a few shots, quite a few, and when it was over we went to Cafe Andaluz for a tapas lunch washed down with a nice glass of red. After lunch we did a bit more shopping. Alliterative Sparkly Sandals for Scamp. For me, an inconclusive attempt to get a pair of jeans that I like at a price I was willing to pay. Possibly an impossible proposition.

To round off our day we dropped in to the Horse Shoe Bar for a little drink before we got the bus home. I don’t think Scamp was too comfortable on a shoogly bar stool. She’s not used to drinking at height.

Oh, today’s title doesn’t refer to us, at least I don’t think it does.  It was a discussion we had as we were walking back up Buchanan Street, wondering how many of those marching today with their rainbow colours and sequins were actually L or G or B or T or I.  We reckoned on about 50%.  The rest were just there for the fun of it or to support friends.  Why not?  That’s what life is all about.

Tomorrow? Maybe a walk in the morning. Tomorrow may be the first day of a new regime. A fitness regime. We’ll see how long it lasts.

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The auld alliance, Venice – 17 July 2017

18 JulyToday was Venice. That meant an early start to watch the sail in. It was almost as good as it was two years ago. Then we had a running commentary. This time we had nothing. I’m getting used to ‘nothing’ with Thomson. Cheap and nasty.   However, Venice is always a great port to visit.  Multinational, multicultural and a great place to get wedding photos taken if you’re from China, Japan or Korea, apparently.

We got the ‘cooncil’ water taxi from just along from the ship to St Mark’s Square for half the price that Thomson were asking.  Walked into the square and were amazed by the crowds.  Just as amazed as we were the last time, and the time before that.  The queue was starting to build for the Doge’s Palace, but Scamp noticed that there was virtually no queue to get to the top of the Campanile (bell tower).  We’d never been up it before, so today it seemed the thing to do.

First Surprise.  You access the top of the bell tower by lift, not stairs.  I’m guessing it’s possible to climb to the top if you are of that frame of mind, but we were happy to just let the lift take the strain.  The lift was really smooth going up and the view from the top was amazing.  It’s not really the top, it’s the viewing gallery at the top of the square tower,  There is a tight little spiral staircase in a wrought iron cage that probably goes right up past the bells and into the pyramidal space at the very top, but unfortunately, the gate to the staircase was locked so we couldn’t go up.  That’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it.  As you can imagine, we both took lots of photos of Venice from the top of the Campanile.  Well, more photos of Venetian roofs than of Venice itself, but it was a great sight with views to the north, south, east and west.
Second Surprise.  The Bell Tower’s bells are there and intact.  All greased and ready for action.  I became a bit nervous as the big hand on my watch crept towards the 12, but it passed without a bell being struck.  Scamp guessed that the bells don’t ring because of H&S.  Too many people would be suing the city for bell induced deafness if they rang out in that confined space.
All too soon it was time to go back down to earth.  The lift was just as swift going down as it was going up, although Scamp noticed that the lift operator looked as if he was offering up a prayer!  Maybe he was just hoping time would pass quickly until his lunch.
Remember I mentioned the Oriental Weddings?  When we got out of the lift there was a bride and groom getting in.  Bride all decked out in her white wedding dress and groom in tails.  What a strange place to get your wedding photos done, in a bell tower.

With our unexpected visit past, I tried a sketch of the Campanile, but if you sit anywhere in the square, you’re expected to pay an exorbitant fee, so I had to stand and I couldn’t get the perspective right, so I scrapped it and decided to try again when we came back.  Scamp was on a mission to find a special cafe that sold Cannoli which are little pastry tubes filled with cream.  We’d had them the last time we were there and Scamp was sure she could find the cafe.  Like a bloodhound on the scent, she led us almost straight to the shop!  Amazing!  It was beside the Grand Canal, just down from the Rialto bridge.  We both had Cannoli and cappuccino.  A bloke sitting in the cafe looked over longingly and rubbed his belly and raised his eyebrows in a question.  I smiled and just nodded.

From the cafe we crossed the Rialto and followed our noses for a while.  I was half looking for an art shop I’d been to the last time we were in Venice and I was hoping to get another sketch book there.  Not that I really needed a sketch book, it was more the idea than anything.  We didn’t find it, but we did find a square with a Leonardo exhibition.  I wasn’t really interested in going in, but I spotted another campanile near by and managed a reasonable sketch of it.  The sun was hot, but I found some shade under a tree to get the sketch done.  However, I thought it was time we were heading back.  On the way back we passed a wee pizza shop and, after some arguing about whether we should stop or go on, sat ourselves down at the only free table, ordered a pizza each and a carafe of red wine.  I don’t know who spoke first, the bloke sitting next to me or me, but when I turned round, I realised that here was the man from the Cannoli cafe.  I tried to explain and suddenly the penny dropped with him too.  “Oh yes, the little pastry!”.  It turned out he was French (Note capitalization = Nice Couple.  We had earlier had a short conversation with a nice, quietly spoken American [same capitalization rule applies]).  It turned out they were French but had a son who lived and worked in Glasgow “Good beer!  Good whisky – Not Johnny Walker.”  Our conversation was a bit stilted.  He had little english and I had no French, but we got by.  He asked what about Brexit and I told him I wasn’t in favour.  Should Scotland break from england?  Oh yes, we were both in agreement with that. Finally it was time for them to leave so we shook hands and Scamp offered “Bon Chance”.  A reaffirming of the Auld Alliance.

With the bill paid and a chance encounter under our belt, we headed back to St Mark’s and only had about 5mins to wait for the water taxi back to the boat.  Got there and we both went for a snooze ready for the sailaway to begin at 6pm.  Oh, the entertainment officer was almost wetting his pants with excitement, it was going to be a wonderful sailaway, one we’d remember for ever.  Six o’clock came and went and still we were firmly connected to Venice by our pedestrian access umbilical.  Also, there was no sign of the port workers who would undo the great ropes tying the ship to the bollards. Half past six and we were still waiting.  Finally after sitting in the hot sun for forty five minutes without any message from the captain or anyone else, one bloke with a black bag appeared sauntering on board and the umbilical was removed, the port staff arrived and departure began. Thomson, you need to start a conversation with your passengers.  You need to explain what’s going on, even if it’s bad news.  Thomson, you’re going the same way as P&O.  You have your ‘fanboys’, but thinking passengers like us will just take our money elsewhere.

Dinner tonight was in Smash ‘n’ Grab again.  It was Curry Night and it was lovely again.  Smash ‘n’ Grab might be a bit antisocial, but the food is better than in the waiter service restaurant IMO.  Danced to a couple of songs by Strumjam, then coffee and ‘white tea’ before bed.

Zadar tomorrow.

This blog and the previous two were brought to you by Free Zadar WiFi.

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Recovering from an overdose of salsa – 3 July 2017

Today was always going to be a recovery day. Dancing at the Sunday Social, then dancing at the 40th wedding anniversary celebration for Johnny and Andrea. Late drive home then crashing to get the blog done before the witching hour. I don’t suppose the wee dram helped either.

Anyway, a new day. Did a bit more gardening, but not as much as Scamp. After lunch I went for a walk to lose the black monkey that was on my shoulder all day. Went down the Luggie for a change and got the photo of the dog rose and the sketch of the railway bridge. Came home, without the monkey, had dinner and went to more salsa. That’s the day in a nutshell.

There’s not much more to say other than I hadn’t intended doing a sketch every day in July, it was just a lovely warm sunny then dull day and I love the textures of the old railway bridge. I expect some day they will have to repair or replace it, but until then I’ll admire its rusty overgrown features and photograph it or sketch it when it appeals to me.

I helped out at Cameron’s enormous beginners salsa class. He really needs the help. He’s getting better as a teacher, but really needs to “speak more clearly and distinctly” to quote Scamp. He also needs to stop referring to everyone as ‘guys’. That’s ok when you’re talking to a bunch of guys, but calling everyone ‘guys’ can be confusing for beginners to know when he’s talking to leaders and when he’s talking to followers. Maybe he will improve, or maybe as someone once said at school “He’s plateaued.” IE. ‘reached a state of little or no change after a period of activity or progress’. Only time will tell, but I, as a seasoned dancer, found today’s class confusing, so what did the beginners think.  One big bonus tonight was that Scamp drove us in and back from class.  It was so relaxing being driven, but I don’t think Scamp found it that way.  I think I may be driving on Wednesday DV.

Tomorrow we’re out fairly early. Don’t know what we will be doing after that.